University of Technology Sydney

81523 Speculative Start-up

Warning: The information on this page is indicative. The subject outline for a particular session, location and mode of offering is the authoritative source of all information about the subject for that offering. Required texts, recommended texts and references in particular are likely to change. Students will be provided with a subject outline once they enrol in the subject.

Subject handbook information prior to 2021 is available in the Archives.

UTS: Creative Intelligence and Innovation: Transdisciplinary Innovation
Credit points: 6 cp
Result type: Grade and marks

Requisite(s): 40 credit points of completed study in spk(s): STM90839 Core subjects (Creative Intelligence and Innovation)
There are course requisites for this subject. See access conditions.


This subject introduces students to key considerations critical to the success of start-ups, be they for-profit or not-for-profit. Students are afforded the opportunity to develop professional skills relevant to planning, initiation and leading successful start-ups. This subject is an advanced subject in the Bachelor of Creative Intelligence and Innovation degree, which allows students to consolidate and apply much of what they have learned in the course. Students design a speculative start-up, which they may aspire to launch as a real enterprise.

Subject learning objectives (SLOs)

Upon successful completion of this subject students should be able to:

1. Identify key elements of the regulatory environment relevant to start-ups
2. Conduct research to identify and evaluate key factors relevant to value creation and the success and sustainability of new enterprises
3. Develop and apply professional skills critical to the success of new enterprises, be they not or for profit
4. Identify and adapt methods, tool and professional practices necessary to understand and operate in complex environments
5. Communicate ideas and concepts to engage clients and stakeholders, and use persuasive techniques to influence key stakeholders and decision-makers
6. Design a business model which has the potential to create economic, social and environmental value, and formulate a feasible plan to launch the start-up

Course intended learning outcomes (CILOs)

This subject contributes specifically to the development of the following course intended learning outcomes:

  • Take a leadership role in identifying and working to address community, organisational or cultural issues, challenges and opportunities through innovation (CII.4.4)
  • Imagine and design initiatives within existing organisational structures (intrapreneurship) or by building a new context (entrepreneurship) (CII.5.1)
  • Explore and articulate the transformation required to create and implement innovation, with sensitivity to the creative destruction that this requires (CII.5.2)
  • Identify required capabilities for realising an idea and create a venture team to achieve the aspirations of a particular innovation (CII.5.3)
  • Communicate confidently and with diplomacy to influence essential stakeholders or decision makers and to achieve impact (CII.5.4)

Teaching and learning strategies

Learning will take place in a collaborative, immersive and experiential environment. Each student's entrepreneurial journey will be different, so a blended learning approach will be supported to enable students to pursue an idiosyncratic learning journey. A key learning strategy is ‘learning by doing’, whereby each student will engage with an entrepreneurial initiative which they aspire to launch as a real enterprise or project, with learning occurring as they enact the entrepreneurial initiative. We encourage students to scaffold previous entrepreneurial thinking by iterating previous student startups or initiatives. Rather than focus on assessing students on one initiative which they carry through the entirety of the subject, students will be assessed in a holistic fashion focusing on learning outcomes and practices. Students who discover their initiative does not have service / product / market fit or is otherwise unfeasible or undesirable, they will be encouraged to pivot at the point where this learning occurs.

Students will be encouraged to collaborate with industry partners and stakeholders in an ethical way as they develop their initiatives. The learning is a form of 'work-integrated-learning', where students will inhabit a liminal space between the university and real world industry contexts as they engage in entrepreneurial work.

The entrepreneurial journey is a process of experimentation, following an iterative trial and error approach. A number of formal and informal virtual workshops and learning experiences will be facilitated to support students' learning. The second two weeks’ modules will be customised to fit student learning needs and wants, as identified during the first week as they develop their initiatives. To immerse students in this experience, we provide a framework of support to individual students and teams to suit their individual needs. The subject has been designed with self-guided modules that are complimented with 1:1 expert-in-residence coaching, a team of innovators-in-residence of Speculative Startup alumni, and regular virtual standups to enable mutual learning and support across students. All communication between faculty and students is to be via MS teams to enable mutual learning across the cohort.

UTS Staff, peers and invited entrepreneurs and experts will give formative feedback continually and as part of formal mutual learning sessions as students develop their initiatives. Some sessions will run via Zoom, and to log into these sessions students must be logged into Zoom via their UTS student account - instructions for this can be found on the Canvas site.

Content (topics)

  • Planning, strategy and competitive advantage
  • Advanced decision-making
  • Risk analysis
  • Negotiation planning
  • Sales skills
  • Budgeting and valuation


Assessment task 1: Planning report


A key objective of this assessment is to help you develop a complex mental model of key factors relevant to your start-up at the beginning of the subject. This is so that when you pivot and adapt your activities and strategies you do so with greater awareness of the interdependencies of the set of factors relevant to each pivot. It will require you to document (i) a tentative business plan(ing) document including a proposed business model and tentative action plan for the startup / initiative, (ii) an individual learning plan for this subject including an proposed plan for what key activities you plan to engage in over the course of the subject in the form of a timetable, (iii) details of your partnering and / or stakeholder engagement strategy, and (iv) nominate a wishlist of things you would like us to support you with over the course of the subject and why you want / need that support. A detailed assessment Brief will be available via Canvas.


This assessment task addresses the following subject learning objectives:

2, 3, 4, 5 and 6

This assessment task contributes to the development of course intended learning outcome(s):

CII.4.4, CII.5.2, CII.5.3 and CII.5.4

Type: Report
Groupwork: Group, group and individually assessed
Weight: 30%

Assessment task 2: Final report and presentation


The final report and presentation is a showcase of your start-up at that point in time. Each start-up and entrepreneur will follow an idiosyncratic journey, so the nature of this assessment is to be discussed with and approved by your mentor. For example, it could take the form of (a) a feasibility study including a mock-up of the product or service, (b) a prospectus and action plan to raise substantial funds, (c) a feasibility study and technical drawings and plans for a new product, (d) if the start-up is launched during the semester, a business plan with sample product or service and report back on your progress, (e) some other substantial work. Ideally the final report and presentation comprise deliverables necessary to the effective planning, management and / or success of your start-up.


This assessment task addresses the following subject learning objectives:

1, 3, 4, 5 and 6

This assessment task contributes to the development of course intended learning outcome(s):

CII.4.4, CII.5.1, CII.5.3 and CII.5.4

Type: Report
Groupwork: Group, group and individually assessed
Weight: 50%

Assessment task 3: Learning Portfolio


A detailed assessment Brief outlining specific requirements for each assessment task will be available in UTS Online. Ensure you consult these briefs before you undertake the assessment tasks.


This assessment task addresses the following subject learning objectives:

1, 2, 3 and 6

This assessment task contributes to the development of course intended learning outcome(s):

CII.4.4, CII.5.1, CII.5.2 and CII.5.3

Type: Portfolio
Groupwork: Individual
Weight: 20%

Minimum requirements

Students must achieve at least 50% of the subject’s total marks. Students must attempt and submit each assignment task. For any task worth over 40% students must achieve a grade of 40% or more.

Recommended texts

English, J. 2012. How to Organise and Operate a Small Business in Australia (11th ed). Allen and Unwin.

Aulet, B. 2013. Disciplined Entrepreneurship, Wiley

Rose, D.S., 2016. The Startup Checklist: 25 Steps to a Scalable, High-growth Business. John Wiley & Sons.

Osterwalder, A. and Pigneur, Y. 2010. Business Model Generation: A Handbook For Visionaries, Game Changers, And Challengers: Wiley.